The Need to Persist

There are only a few of us who are willing to take the risk of venturing out into the city or even out of our homes. It is possible that we are the ones who feel the caprice of indefinite lock-downs and stay-at-home directives. Personally, as a cancer survivor, I would rather take some risk and live my life rather than give up a large portion of the time remaining in my life to fear.

Many of the people that I follow on Instagram are posting older work because they have suspended their lives. They are posting sad, dated retrospectives with hopeful messages about getting back to normal. I prefer to take action rather than wait for others to decide what is right for me and I refuse to suspend my life.

Depression often motivates me and my wife, Marne, will prod me when she feels me descending into Mordor. That is when I hop onto my bicycle and go for a ride. Rides into Boston have been a staple for me and for my street photography. I had a solo show of my Boston images planned for this month until the world stopped turning.

This year I have made two bicycle trips into Boston to date and both times I persisted in bringing my camera. During both of those trips I visited some of my favorite places in Boston. My style includes people in unique situations and my images almost always have a message or a story. My favorite places did not deliver as they have in the past since the density of people was low. High volumes of people guarantee a diversity of subject matter.

During both of those trips I found that I could do a documentary on homelessness during the pandemic. It seemed that the only occupants of the park benches in Boston Common were homeless and there were many congregated near the Park Street Church. More than half of the pedestrians in the canyons of the Boston city streets were also homeless.

Still, there were bright spots, such as the Esplanade where there was the usual traffic of runners, walkers, and cyclists. There was thin attendance at the Boston Public Garden. It is difficult to imagine people avoiding the place once the weather turns warm since it is already flourishing with the addictive colors of the trees and flowers. Even with the parking areas cordoned off, a few people from Southie cannot resist the lure of the ocean at Pleasure Bay and Castle Island. In the North End, Christopher Columbus Park entertains a number of people who have no trouble maintaining their distance.

There are plenty of trite reminders of our current predicament. The statue of former mayor Kevin White across from city hall has a face mask. The duck and ducklings of the famous Make Way for Ducklings sculpture in the Public Garden are wearing face masks. It would not be so bad if there were crowds of real people wearing face masks walking among them.

In the North End at Christopher Columbus Park near the harbor I found a hopeful sign of life. A man and his eight year old grandson were flying a kite. The boy was retrieving the kite hand over hand while the old man wound the line on a card. We talked a bit and I learned that this was not the first time they had flown a kite at this location. The old man and I both had our faces covered and the boy looked at me curiously, probably trying to discern an approving smile. That is my best image from the past two outings.

outdoor activity in Boston during pandemic
Mr. Kite in Columbus Park

I will take every opportunity that I can to return to Boston during the coming months to witness the transition into summer. My hope is that the people, the beer gardens, the pushcarts, and the food trucks come back soon. None of us can continue to live this way.